Former Syracuse basketball coach and accused child molester Bernie Fine is facing his first civil lawsuit by an alleged victim who is accused of fabricating his story.
The lawsuit, filed today in Pennsylvania, claims Fine sexually abused Zach Tomaselli at a hotel room in Pittsburgh in 2002, the Associated Press reports. Tomaselli, now 23, claims Fine showed him pornography and fondled him.
Fine insists he's innocent of all charges. But Syracuse fired him last month over these and other allegations, ending a storied 35-year coaching career.
Tomaselli's Bernie Fine lawsuit comes one day after a New York prosecutor publicly questioned the alleged victim's story.
The prosecutor said his staff would soon provide Fine's lawyers with "exculpatory" evidence -- records regarding the Syracuse team's travel and accommodations in 2002. Bernie Fine's lawyers told CNN they look forward to reviewing that evidence.
At the same news conference Wednesday, the prosecutor also announced Fine could not be criminally charged under New York law for molesting two ball boys in the 1980s and 1990s, because the statute of limitations had expired.
But the claims in the Bernie Fine civil suit fall within federal statutes of limitations, ESPN reports. The Secret Service is investigating.
Tomaselli is himself charged with 11 counts of molesting a boy in Maine in 2009 and 2010. Earlier this week, Tomaselli said he planned to plead guilty to those charges.
Today's Bernie Fine suit is the first to be filed, but it may not be the last. Federal authorities are also looking into abuse claims by a fourth alleged victim.
- Zach Tomaselli sues Bernie Fine in Pennsylvania court (USA Today)
- Zach Tomaselli; Bernie Fine's Third Accuser Steps Forward (FindLaw's New York Criminal Law Blog)
- Child Abuse Laws State-by-State (FindLaw)
- Civil Cases vs. Criminal Cases - Key Differences (FindLaw)